Republicans and the White House are resuming debt ceiling talks

  • By Sam Cabral
  • BBC News, Washington

image source, Good pictures

White House officials and Republicans resumed debt ceiling talks on Friday after a brief pause.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said bipartisan talks are continuing at the Capitol. A White House official confirmed talks had resumed.

When they suspended talks on Friday, Republicans said the White House had made “unreasonable” demands.

Without a deal, the US cannot repay its $31.4tn (£25.2tn) debt.

The Treasury Department has warned that unless the debt ceiling is raised, the government will not be able to borrow or pay all of its bills after June 1.

Speaker McCarthy told Fox Business on Friday evening: “We’ll be back in the chamber tonight.

“But it’s very frustrating when they come into the room and think they’re going to spend more money next year than they did this year. That’s not right, and that’s not going to happen.”

He said he had not spoken to President Joe Biden, who will return to Washington on Sunday after cutting back on foreign travel.

Garrett Graves, a Louisiana congressman and leading Republican negotiator, told reporters he had “an honest debate about realistic numbers, a realistic path forward and something that will truly change the trajectory of this country’s spending and debt problem.”

Failure to raise the debt ceiling from its current limit could see the United States freeze its Social Security payments and the salaries of its federal and military employees. A default threatens to wreak havoc on the global economy, affecting prices and mortgage rates in other countries.

The suspension of talks earlier on Friday was widely seen as a bargaining ploy on Capitol Hill, but U.S. financial markets stumbled on growth, ending the afternoon in negative territory. The Dow fell 0.3%, the S&P 500 fell 0.1% and the Nasdaq fell 0.2%.

In exchange for support for raising the debt ceiling, Republicans are demanding budget cuts of up to $4.5tn, including scaling back many of Mr Biden’s legislative priorities.

The White House has called the Republican proposal “a blueprint that will destroy hard-working American families,” though it has hinted in recent days that it might offer some budget concessions.

Both President Biden and Speaker McCarthy are under pressure from the left and right of their respective parties to hold the line. With a one-seat Democratic majority in the Senate and Republicans in narrow control of the House, a deal has so far proven elusive.

And with the clock ticking, both parties are far apart.

“It’s time to press pause because it’s not productive,” said Mr. Graves, the Louisiana congressman who left earlier. “Until people want to have hard conversations about how you can actually move forward and do the right thing, we’re not going to sit here and talk to ourselves.”

Patrick McHenry, a North Carolina Republican who has been involved in the negotiations, told the Wall Street Journal that the negotiations were at a “very bad moment.”

Mr. Biden has argued that raising the debt ceiling and reducing the budget deficit should be two separate issues, but six in 10 Americans disagree, according to the new Associated Press-NORC. poll.

The president hopes to finalize a deal after the U.S. returns from the G7 summit in Japan on Sunday.

“If both sides negotiate in good faith and realize they won’t get everything they want, a deal is still possible,” a White House official said.

“There are real differences between the parties on budget issues and negotiations will be difficult. The president’s team is working hard toward a reasonable bipartisan solution that can pass the House and Senate.”

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